A couple of months ago, my husband turned on the TV with the intention of watching Kung Fu Panda 2. I kid you not. He’d heard our 11-year-old daughter cracking up at it the night before, and what can I say? He is very impressionable. To be fair, who doesn’t want to kick back once in a while?
Me, that’s who. After 15 years of parenting, I have sworn off talking animals, no matter how ostensibly amusing, for the foreseeable future. (I just need some time to heal.)
I snagged the remote, as he was occupied with some popcorn. I had plans for a Downton Abbey marathon — Season 2 was about to begin, and I needed a refresher.
Unfortunately, as soon as my husband saw women in Edwardian dress appear on the screen, he began screaming. (He may have a touch of Jane Austen PTSD.) I distracted him with more popcorn, and then Dame Maggie Smith delivered one of her zingers. Marital spat averted! He was hooked.
Downton Abbey is a huge hit – millions of Americans have been tuning in to the Great War-era romantic saga on PBS – that the New York Times has called “captivating and addictive” and the Wall Street Journal called “impossible to resist.” It is all of these, but the thing is, I may be taking it a little too much to heart. This has had some unexpected consequences for my family.
For starters, when I am not wandering around whispering “MatthewMatthewMatthew” (what, is that bad?) I have gained a whole new vocabulary with which to befuddle my children and amuse myself. My new favorite words are “quite,” which makes me feel brisk and no-nonsense, and “entirely,” as in, “are you entirely certain that that is a good idea?”
The kids don’t know what to make of either expression. This is a huge plus, for mystifying my children keeps them quiet, at least for a few minutes. Or perhaps it’s my newfound hauteur. They’d gotten so used to my begging.
Downton Abbey has also allowed me to communicate with my husband on a whole new level. Much has been of the fact that the characters often eschew words in favor of giving each other charged, yearning looks. It occurred to me that the only Meaningful Look I’ve given my husband in about 15 years is the one I give him every morning, when he is standing between me and the coffee pot. It is a look of yearning, but not, ahem, for him.
So, hoping to convey that we still have That Spark, I delivered a Meaningful Look when he came home from work the other day. The moment was electric, or so I thought. Then I noticed his eyes widening. In confusion.
“What?” he asked, looking around to see if the coffee pot was behind him. “Did I forget something?” He ran and took out the garbage.
Apparently, he is somewhat afraid of me. This bodes well for my upcoming Dowager Countess years, but. . . .
At any rate, Season 2 will come to an end in two weeks. This is, as they say on Downton Abbey, “rather bad news, I’m afraid.”
Until then, pass the biscuit jar. I’ve got several love stories, class injustice and a war on my mind. Kids, go make your own lunches.